Positive Affirmations: True Power or New Age Gibberish?
Do positive affirmations work?
Or is it just an alternative thinking approach popularized by self-help gurus and life coaches, one that will fizzle out when the next hot thing comes around?
I was standing in the kitchen the other day, brewing my tea, forcing a smile and repeating to myself in a low voice, “I’m a good person. I’m a good person. I am a GOOD PERSON!!”
Then I waited to feel better. Naturally, you wait a few seconds, everyone knows that. Even magic is not instantaneous. (Right?)
Nothing. I still felt judgmental and full of rage about something that has had me in tight knots for a while. Don’t fret, I won’t bother you with that, it’s not relevant.
What’s relevant here is whether positive affirmations work?
I love the idea of affirmations. I write about it, read books and articles on it, and say them without tiring. They are soothing to my heart and pleasant to the ear. I share them with my coaching clients and we come up with custom affirmations fit for their particular struggle.
The other weekend, I even got my husband and father-in-law repeating “I’m a great golfer. I hit the ball well. I putt like nobody’s business.” over and over before their golf tournament (and what do you know? They won against major golfers … but that could’ve been just a coincidence, right?).
If you’ve been in love at least once, you know that loving the idea of something is quite a different thing than loving something itself. To love something, you must believe in it.
Do I Believe in these Affirmations Now?
At first, I didn’t want to believe in affirmations at all. Between us, much as I hate admitting such things on a blog all about positivity, when I first learned about affirmations, they seemed nothing more than stupid little phrases that you say to yourself in the hopes of just feeling better.
Even if it worked, I didn’t want to FEEL better. I wanted solutions to my problems!!
What made the affirmations even more ridiculous to my beginner mind was that you use the present tense – such as I am beautiful and strong – to affirm their power in the now and not in some distant future.
This made them sound even less believable. I mean, when I feel rotten, it’s easier to believe “I will be a good person.” as in, someday, way down the road, as opposed to “I am a good person right now”, when you clearly don’t feel like one.
So Do Affirmations Work or Not? Just Tell Me.
How exactly are mere little phrases supposed to change a bad situation around or prepare us better for the ups and downs of life?
And you can’t answer that fair and square if you have only tried them on a happy day. On bright days, when life is lovely and the sun is shining, well of course affirmations are only going to make you feel good. You’re already feeling great. You just feel greater!
But it’s on that rainy Tuesday afternoon, when you have had a tiff with your beloved, and feel trapped in your cubicle job, it’s in that moment that you really need something to work and work fast. You want to feel better AND be dealing with a better situation.
You know, I would have loved nothing more than sticking to my first stubborn thoughts such as:
- Affirmations are too simple to work.
- They won’t work for me.
- I am different and so is my situation.
- I need a more serious approach to my problems.
- Leave me out of your new age nonsense.
And on and on and on. Oh the silent damage of negative thoughts!
Thankfully, I decided it would be ignorant to dismiss something without really giving it a try. So I started applying these 100 positive affirmations to my life and my daily situations without pause, and this is what happened:
The moment I started to believe that they work, they did.
A 4 Step Shortcut to Applying Affirmations Right Away
Let’s get practical for a minute. The mind can play tricks on us so it helps to ground ourself with a process (so we outsmart the mind naturally ha ha!).
If you are a new or a beginner to affirmations, use this 4 step simple shortcut to applying affirmations to your daily life:
1. Remove the negative affirmation from your vocabulary.
2. Replace with nothing at first. Get used to saying nothing at all.
3. Replace with the opposite, the positive affirmation.
4. Repeat the process. Once or twice is not enough. Rinse and repeat.
Example never hurt: If you are going to do yoga for the first time, your mind will likely blurt out one of these annoying negative (and completely untrue) phrases such as “I’m not flexible!”, “I can’t touch my toes.”, “Yoga isn’t for me.” Those are your negative affirmations. Your first step is to shut them up. Don’t say them out loud or to yourself. When you are used to not saying that and saying nothing at all, then slowly add your positive affirmation – the opposite of the negative – such as “I AM flexible.”, “I CAN touch my toes.” and, that’s right, “Yoga IS for me!”
Here’s the thing. If you go into affirmations “expecting” them to work, if you are there to “see proof” first before you believe, you will not only be disappointed, you will be sick of hearing your voice repeating what will sound like nonsense to your brain.
But if you believe first without proof, which is another way of saying if you have faith, complete faith in the power of positive affirmations and in the magic of believing first what you want to manifest, you will surpass your own highest expectations of yourself.
That’s the shift.
For the mind that inquires some proof, well, it just so happens that science tends to side with affirmations. Dr. Mona Lisa Schulz worked closely with the beloved Louise Hay and shares her thoughts on why affirmations work from a science perspective.
Why to Believe in Affirmations First
It is your mind you need to get onboard here, my dear, not your heart or your body. It’s that stubborn head resting on top of the shoulders that rules and it’s the very thing that should be quiet and listening sometimes.
Start by listening and observing your body, your overall sense of well-being, even your breathing, after you have done your affirmations.
Start observing how you behave towards others and how they perceive you.
Start by nudging out the negative voice that creeps from the background to drown out your affirmation, acknowledge it without giving it power.
Start by all of this, one small step at a time, one tiny little affirmation per day.
And then, don’t be surprised when you wake up that inner voice that has wanted to come alive for a long time, the inner voice that says to you exactly what Marianne Williamson said many years ago. You know the words. You know the message. But now you will begin to believe it:
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
Listen you wonderful thing, I am not saying this is easy, or that affirmations fix everything with a poof of magic. I am saying you are a beautiful confident person – that’s a fact – and the only work you have to do is believe it. I made you a FREE confidence building course to help you on this journey, and I’m taking my own course along with you, because we can all use more of that inner confidence. Grab it below:
Use Your Inner Powers
Bonus: 21-Step Confidence Building Series